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Tony Schwartz, 30,000 Recordings Later

Tony Schwartz and his tape recorder. New York City, 1962.
Tony Schwartz and his tape recorder. New York City, 1962.

We hear a profile of Tony Schwartz, an innovative and inspired sound gatherer, recording the sounds of America since 1945.

Schwartz composed the Lost and Found Sound series theme music, "Music in Marble Halls." He recorded it in the lobby of 14 East 36th Street in New York City in the late 1950s. Clarinet by Jimmy Giuffre with Mrs. Giuffre on High Heels.


"New York 19" was the non-commercial musical life of my postal zone. And the postal zone was New York 19 at that time. It's 10019 now. That was the area I could travel in. I'm not able to travel far. I have agoraphobia and in walking I could just go around my postal zone in the midst of Manhattan.

I made the first portable recorder. I brought the VU meter from inside the case to the top so I could look down at it and see how loud things were and I put a strap on it so I could hang it over my shoulder, that was in 1945. I could go record children in the park doing jump rope rhymes. And I recorded the street festivals. I made fourteen records for Folkways records you can see them up there. The children's games of the streets -- I called it "1-2-3 and a Zing-Zing-Zing." "I won't go to Macys any more more more. There's a big fat policeman at the door door door..." I was interested in the sound around us.

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